M3 Light Tank

Last updated on February 20th, 2019 at 11:44 am

The M3 light tank was designed by the United States in the spring of 1940 and given to Great Britain as part of the lend-lease program. The British army officially designated the tank the Stuart; in Britain, the M3 was unofficially known as the Honey.

The design of the M3 light tank was based on that America’s M2A4, and like the M2A4, the M3 light tank had a 1.46 inch (37mm) main gun and a rotating turret with seven sides. However the M3 light tank had thicker armor than the M2A4. This increased the weight of the M3 by about seven tenths of a ton and meant that the M3 needed a stronger suspension.

In the earliest models of the Stuart, the armor was riveted on, but later versions had welded armor.

Some of the M3s used gasoline and others used diesel.

M3 light tank in Tunisia, 1943The M3A1 became the first model in the M3 series to see action when it was used by the British, who called it the Stuart I, in the Western Desert.

The Stuart I had no machine guns in the side sponsons. These were taken away after it was discovered that they couldn’t be aimed properly and were therefore wasting a lot of ammunition. The commander’s cupola was also removed from the M3A1. It was replaced by a basket in the turret, which had a power traverse, rather than a manual one.

M3 lights tanks in front of a B24 plane

The M3A3, known as the Stuart V by the British, was the final version of the M3 light tanks series. In the M3A3, the side sponsors were completely removed. This created more room for storing ammunition and for extra fuel tanks. The Stuart V had a larger turret than previous models.

The prototype for the M5 light tank was an experimental model of the M3 which had two Cadillac engines.

Great Britain

M3 Light Tank Stuart Mark III

Active: 1940
Crew: 4
Weight: 12.7 tons (12,904kg)
Length: 14ft 10in (4.52m)
Height: 7ft 7in (2.31m)
Width: 7ft 4in (2.24m)
Weapons: Main – 1.46 in (37mm) M6 gun, Secondary – 3 x 0.3in (7.62mm) machineguns
Armor Maximum – 2.01in (51mm)
Engine: Continental W-670 7-cylinder radial gasoline, 250hp
Speed: 36 mph (58kmh)
Range: 70 miles (113 km)